The Market For Mary Kay Products

mary-kay-product-repurchaseAt Pink Truth, we know that 99% of all participants in multi-level marketing lose money. Nonetheless, recruiters for Mary Kay and other MLMs tell recruits that they can make money just selling the product!  They will tell you this while knowing that they have lost money, with hundreds or thousands of dollars of inventory sitting in their basements or garages.

But the story sounds good! Buy a product for $1 and sell it for $2! You have doubled your money!

Here’s the dirty truth: Sales of multi-level marketing products to actual customers are very low. This is primarily because the products are overpriced in order to pay many levels of commissions. While Mary Kay’s products might work just fine, they are comparable to brands found at Walgreen’s or Target, and they generally cost more than those brands.

How do I know that relatively little of the products purchased by Mary Kay consultants are ever sold to real customers? First, I have my own personal experience. I was an active Mary Kay consultant for about 18 months, working very diligently to develop a customer base. My goal was to hold 3 to 4 skin care classes a week, and I worked the way I was instructed…. calling leads, warm chatting, trying to book follow-up appointments, etc… but found it was incredibly difficult to book those classes and then ensure that the classes were held.

After that, I spent another year or two trying to unload the inventory I had. I found that the claims about women spending $100 or $150 on average at a class were lies. I found that the claims about the amount women will spend each year on reorders were lies. The products were difficult to move, and I was constantly discounting, giving hostess gifts, and offering other incentives to get people to buy.

I was consistently the top seller in our unit, yet I could never achieve the sales I was told were “average” before I signed up and bought my inventory package. I watched my recruits and fellow unit members, and found that they weren’t having success with moving much product either.

We also have the stories of thousands of consultants who have visited this site and discussed their experiences.  These stories make it clear that selling Mary Kay products is very difficult, and almost impossible to do consistently. The vast majority of women who are on the Court of Sales at Seminar (ordering $36,000 retail value / $18,000 wholesale value of products per year) do NOT sell all of those products. Much of it goes unsold as stockpiles of inventory in consultants’ homes grow.

But maybe we’re all just lazy losers and that’s why we’re a part of Pink Truth? Maybe everyone else is sooooooo successful and that’s why they’re not lending their stories to us? No, I’ve ruled that out as a possibility. Each week we have a few Mary Kay consultants who visit Pink Truth to bash us and tell us how much money they’re making selling the products. But any time we ask for proof of their income claims, they inevitably run away, screaming how mean we are.

When it comes time to put the money where the mouth is, consultants and directors claiming to retail lots of Mary Kay products won’t provide proof of those alleged sales. (And of course, Mary Kay doesn’t track retail sales…. likely because they know how pitiful the actual sales are, and they don’t want to have any hard evidence in their hands that might suggest MK is a pyramid scheme.)

Look no further than information freely available on the internet to see that women are desperate to unload their Mary Kay products at any price. If Mary Kay products were so easy to sell, people wouldn’t be offering them at a deep discount (and in large quantities) on sites like:

  • eBay – More than 53,000 listings when this article was written, most of the listings for groups of products
  • Craigslist – 50 to 100 listings per metro area searched when this article was written
  • Amazon – Almost 3,000 listings in the beauty category when this article was written

In addition, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become overrun with Mary Kay consultants peddling their products. Almost all are offering some sort of incentive or discount to attract customers (with little success, of course) and there are plenty of stories and pleas for help on these sites from frustrated consultants who can’t find customers or sell the products.

Is there a market for Mary Kay products? Yes. There are consultants and sales directors who sell the products. But the vast majority cannot sell enough products to turn a profit (much less support themselves), and women are left with inventory they can’t sell and debt they can’t pay off. This, my friends, is the reality of multi-level marketing.

16 Comments

  1. Iescaped

    You know that the products don’t sell when you track the order history of an IBC moving up to SD fast!

    In my former Area a new IBC that wants to go fast usually will make SD in 7-10 months from joining. An IBC will usually finish DIQ with around $17,000-$20,000 with personal retail sales (orders). Within the first year of being a SD, that number is usually down by half.

    What happened?? Why did Susie Red Hot’s sales go down?? One would be thinking that the orders should be increasing if the products were selling.

    But, alas they are not selling. The products are just the ruse to get someone to join.

    No one in their right mind would join MK (or any other MLM) if they were told up front that they make money through recruiting not sales.

  2. Lazy Gardens

    Mary Kay 63,925 listings on eBay as I write this, with 5,000 or more of them “lots” and entire inventories. What is telling is the number closing with no bids, even at below wholesale prices.

    You almost have to pay people to take it.

    1. sally A

      The ads on CL are telling:
      “I just need this garbage out of my house!”
      “I spent $1000 on it, I will let you have it for $300.” (The cost drops down to $50 after a few weeks)
      “My husband says it has to be gone by the time he comes home from work. So name your price.”

  3. raisinberry

    Iescaped is correct, and there is a second big “tell”.

    Any IBC out there need only look at your Unit’s newsletter. The “Seminar Court of Sales” listings will have a top ten. One or two will be older consultants, the rest will be new recruits with their wholesale doubled at retail, as if, it was sold. Of the older (1-2 years) consultants, they are likely going for DIQ or car. At the mid to bottom of the top ten, with be a long timer, who rarely recruits and has been in for 10 to 15 or more years.

    The production money comes in from new recruits and DIQ”s who HAVE to hit their numbers. When they fall out of DIQ, they are encouraged to start over, and the cycle repeats. The “base” of EVERY unit is a moderate sized group of women who flamed out, figured it out, and/or just buys wholesale twice a year for their family and themselves.

    If mary kay worked, as they say it does, wouldn’t every consultant have a growing customer base? Wouldn’t every 20 + year Director have 2,000, 3,000, 5,000 customers? Wouldn’t Units be enormous with all the team members having success? Wouldn’t Mary Kay be instituting a territory or region to work in by now so that “stolen” customers wouldn’t be a thing?

    Wouldn’t EVERY top ten list in your Unit, contain ONLY veteran consultants and new recruits with their doubled wholesale be far down at the bottom of the list?

    1. MLM Radar

      If you’re a brand new consultant who just placed your first order, and you’re being applauded as the “top seller” in your unit (while knowing you’ve hardly sold a darn thing), that should be a BIG clue that something’s wrong. Seriously wrong.

      1. usedbymk

        That’s exactly how I felt when I stood up to be ‘recognized’ as a star consultant my first unit meeting. I wondered how was I ‘anything’ when all the products are sitting at home not sold yet? Everything I read here is spot on.

      2. contemplating

        “If you’re a brand new consultant who just placed your first order, and you’re being applauded as the “top seller” in your unit (while knowing you’ve hardly sold a darn thing), that should be a BIG clue that something’s wrong. Seriously wrong.”

        AMEN!!! And, they DO NOT Like it when one becomes aware of and begins to question this. I was told I was being rewarded for being brave enough to start my business. LIES!

      3. DeflatedPinkBubble

        I remember going to a Fall Retreat and during the recognition for all who placed orders, one girl who was brand new said to me “I don’t understand this. I didn’t sell anything. I just placed my inventory order.” She realized right then and there what the scam was. She got out. She didn’t even stay for the rest of the retreat.

  4. morningstar

    For decades the product shame (not being able to sell the inventory you purchased) was hidden. in the advent of the internet all has been revealed on how much of the actual cosmetics are floating around “waiting” for a prospect.

    Social media-
    We can all rejoice in the fact that corporate did not fathom that the tactics about all aspects of the business would be hung out for others to learn and gain viable information. They counted on a level of low communication to keep up the profits.

    Notice corporate is clunky regarding social media, they maintain individual website control, implemented facebook “rules”, and it really comes off as seriously hokey. Corporate seems to fight it as a challenge, because it is a drain from their income.

    Compare how social media has transformed many businesses into the future and put them on the map in a positive light and open pathways never dreamed because the business successfully using the many avenues available. Back to MK- who is getting lost and drowned out by social media.
    Their focus has bee on being selfish with the profits, and not addressing problems with the business plan for YEARS.

    I still stand by the lost vision that MK corporate could have taken steps with the sales force and the product to advance in to a brand with integrity. They failed to position themselves at a time when explosive cosmetics lines had not entered the market.

    I am sure they are hiding the monetary downturn in business, and it is best described by the ebay, craigslist, and amazon sales listings.

    If you are considering this business and are great at sales, are you ready to compete with the workhorses of eBay, amazon, in a saturated and turned off market to MK products?
    When I saw who I was competing with for sales of the product on the internet, that was the icing on the cake to get out.
    Are all these reps happy with not only competing with others in the MLM, but also on line retailers?
    Send the crud back and retain your values.

    1. “Notice corporate is clunky regarding social media, they maintain individual website control, implemented facebook “rules”, and it really comes off as seriously hokey. Corporate seems to fight it as a challenge, because it is a drain from their income.

      Compare how social media has transformed many businesses into the future and put them on the map in a positive light and open pathways never dreamed because the business successfully using the many avenues available.”

      Using social media is practically a requirement for a business to make its presence known. Any company that insists otherwise or makes up burdensome rules for the use of social media should throw up a huge red flag that maybe something’s not right here.

  5. This is why I’m so glad I found PT.

    When I did encounter MLMs, either through a recruiter or other means, I always wondered whether there was any sort of market for these products. The fact that they were always overpriced always stood out to me. It practically screams “nobody buys this crap! It’s just an illusion our sucker sales force buys into!”

    1. sally A

      MK used to be OK but then they had the big product change a few years back and went to “mineral” (read “cheaper”) formulations and the quality went downhill. Add Ultra and Sephora to the mix and there’s absolutely no reason for MK. I still laugh my ass off when I see SD’s STILL touting that you must carry inventory because women don’t want to wait for their products.

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